Mentoring: Top tips from CIM’s regional networks

02.11.2020

Mentoring: Top tips from CIM’s regional networks

CIM offers members access to a sophisticated mentoring platform which supports 2,500 active members from brands such as Samsung, British Airways, PwC, Panasonic and is available to both UK and international marketers. We know marketers are busy by nature and that’s why our mentoring scheme is designed to work around you. Whether mentor or mentee, it’s your decision as to how you wish for your relationship to work.

To give an insight into what it’s like to be mentored or to be a mentee, we spoke to nine marketers from across CIM’s regional network and asked them to share their first-hand experience, top tips on mentoring and how mentoring has benefited their career.

The benefits of being a mentor

Sam Lee, professional membership ambassador (mentoring), CIM South East:

“Having a mentor gives you access to someone who can help you work through your thoughts relating to a change in career, getting a promotion, learning a new skill, identifying the skills you need, expanding you network or anything for that matter that is proving challenging to sort.  They will support, challenge you and help you meet your objectives (once you have identified them). 

“There are many ways to find a mentor, looking via CIM means you will get someone from marketing, which might be useful, might not.  Having been part of the meet the mentor event last night there are a rich diverse group of mentors in the CIM and they are all passionate about helping from what witnessed.

“I have learnt so much from being a mentor:  it’s given me access to sectors I have never worked in, increased my network, improved my communication skills, particularly listening skills and it gives me sense of purpose – giving back.  I have had the privilege to meet so many people who I would not have met in my personal or professional life.  Lastly, I have learnt new ways of marketing – not a bad thing. 

“Mentors and mentees come from all walks of life, at all levels.  Many think that a mentor has to be older than the mentee, but this is not the case.  A mentor is someone who has the experience and skills to help someone else.  So, someone in their 40s wanting to change career and set up their own business benefit from talking to a 25-year-old who has done this.  You can also have peer to peer mentoring or someone having more than 1 mentor to help with different things.

“I also think that people feel they have to have life changing challenges to get a mentor, but I do not believe that this is the case.  Having someone to contact, to talk to, regularly can help you develop professionally.  Having a mentor in your own company could open doors to other roles.

“I was mentored when I was made redundant six years ago, mainly because I had not been in the job hunting space for years.  The person helped me identify my skills, my strengths, how to search for the right roles and how to deal with interviews.  I still keep in touch with her even through the mentoring programme finished a long time ago.  We actually became friends.

“We recently held a mentoring event, which received positive feedback it’s great when both mentors and mentees can take value from such events.”

An opinion echoed by Lynn Mathieson FCIM, mentor and strategic marketing consultant:

“In the last 10 years, the role of the marketing function has been significantly redefined, resulting in career paths being less well defined. Being an external mentor allows you to create an open dialogue where mentees can explore different options. Only they can make the decision as to ‘what next’, but having access to an independent sounding board can be rewarding, both for them and for their mentor.”

 

Be open when choosing your mentor

Kirsty Ramsey, chair, CIM North East said:

“From the outset of my career I have had great mentors, and not always from a marketing background. Having a mentor helped me to understand the reality of careers, how each career is different and to learn from the amazing experiences my mentors had when building their own careers. It inspired me to want to achieve more, to feel confident, to ask for help and to understand that being brave, trying new things and knowing that they don’t always have to be right or work first time was okay.

“Whatever your career path, experienced marketers have a lot to share. It could be how they changed careers or moved through different roles or industries. Sharing those experiences and the skills you have learned along the way can change a young marketers entire career.

“It’s the most rewarding thing I have done throughout my career, to feel as though I have helped to answer some questions or share an experience from something that went great and where I was very proud, or where something was a disaster but I learned a really valuable lesson. I think in all sectors it’s a duty to help inspire those starting their careers, or even as they rise through the ranks.

“We often hear that owing a business is a lonely place, business owners need a sounding board as much as any individual. Don’t just pick a mentor in your sector, you can learn so much from those who have had very different experiences and career journeys. Always be honest with your mentor, tell them what scares you, what inspires you and you’ll get more from it.”

 

How marketing taps into the wider strategy of business

Tom Nightingale, vice chair of events, CIM North East said:

“I have been an informal mentor for two ex-marketing colleagues after I moved on from previous businesses. It’s important to keep up those relationships and beneficial to both the mentor and the mentee.

“In Baker Hughes, I am on the Leadership Team and I mentor two employees.  These are not in Marketing – one is Planning Leader and the other is Senior Materials Engineer. We were matched as they wanted a broader understanding of the business and an understanding of the external environment. This is where marketing can provide an impact by supporting the wider strategy of the business, sharing external insights and influencing leaders across all areas.”

 

Problem solving and working through new ideas

Ellie Murphy, chair, CIM Scotland said:

“A different perspective. An alternative approach. A bit of encouragement. Sometimes that’s all that’s needed when we can’t see the wood for the trees. For the majority of the challenges we face during our marketing careers there will be someone who’s already tackled that situation and can give invaluable guidance and a helping hand. I love being a mentor, I think as much as anything because I’m fascinated by people – how our brains work, what very human concerns lurk beneath our well-polished professional image (and it helps that I’m a bit nosey!).

“Mentoring isn’t really about providing solutions for people; it’s about helping them work through a problem themselves, with the safety net of you being there to kick ideas around and challenge some of their thinking. There are tools and tips in place to help structure the process, but often it’s the knowledge that your mentor is completely separate from your work situation, has no axe to grind, and is completely unbiased that are the most helpful elements of mentoring. Mentoring can help with all sorts of things – there’s the obvious “I want to change my job” challenge, but just as often it can be about effective self-promotion, building confidence, managing up or managing your team for example.   

“We can all think of someone who’s given us some sound advice and guidance at some point in our career; mentoring is just continuing that tradition. And, the trade off for me is learning about other businesses and sectors, other marketing roles that I’ve not done and getting an opportunity to understand more about all the paths we can take on our marketing journey.”

 

Being a mentee on the CIM mentorship programme

 Antonia Lee, senior marketing manager – major events, London & Partners said:

“I never stop and take the time to focus on me. The CIM mentorship programme changed that and has motivated me to do so in a way I really hadn’t anticipated.

“I’d got to that stage in my career where I wanted an independent marketing expert to take an honest look at my experience and help identify areas of development. The process also actually reminded me of all the good stuff I had achieved to date.

“The portal allowed me to select by industry and skills, and I was drawn to several mentors but particularly Ellie as someone who had spent a lifetime in marketing, was clearly passionate and had the skills I wanted to develop. After the initial conversation I knew that the programme would provide a positive outcome and that I had been fortunate to find a perfect match. She just got me.

“The mentorship sessions with Ellie are priceless. It’s given me an unexpected boost; I’m all ears, open to new ideas and am taking onboard her advice with gusto. But as the saying goes, you only get out what you put in. And I’m glad as I’m investing that time in me.

Ashley O’Neill, events and communications ambassador, CIM Yorkshire said:

“Over the last 12-18 months, I have focused heavily on personal development to help elevate me not only as a marketer, but as a leader. As part of this, I signed up as a mentee with the CIM mentorship programme just under a year ago, in the hope of partnering a successful, experienced marketer outside of my business, who could offer me impartial coaching and a new lens on my development which was not influenced by being part of my organisation.

“And, the experience is one that I cannot recommend enough! I was lucky enough to be partnered with an incredibly knowledgeable female leader and marketer who has offered me insight, advice and new ways of thinking that have had an incredible impact on me. I have developed knowledge and confidence that have helped me accelerate my development and embrace opportunities that push me outside of my comfort zone, and my relationship with my mentor is one I hope to continue long-term.

“If I could offer any advice to anybody thinking about becoming a mentee, it would be to do it - push yourself out of your comfort zone. You will be rewarded by invaluable insights and learnings. I would also advise you to really work on selecting a mentor that is right for you, so you can be 100% honest with them. Open up - they will not judge you.

“I found I was able to be more honest with my mentor because she was impartial and completely unconnected to my business. She challenges me, offers new ways of thinking and supports me when I am struggling.”

Marketers are the leaders of change – views from both mentor and mentee

Jess Dodds, vice chair of events, CIM Yorkshire and her mentee said:

MENTEE: “There's a lot to gain as a marketer, from pursuing a mentorship. A mentor can be someone who guides you through overarching career decisions, personal development and growth, but could also be someone to support you on a specific project or to build a skill set such as expanding into marketing design or exploring the intricacies of advertising. Mentoring is so much more than professional development and often it'll seep into other aspects of your life, confidence building, networking, opportunities to expand your experience.”

“Marketers are often leaders of change, pioneering new ideas and working in small teams to execute big ideas. Having a mentor gives you another person's perspective, to bounce ideas off, discuss challenges in a safe setting and to stretch you when you just need that additional boost.”

“Marketing is a fast-paced career and often we don't take time to take stock and plan ahead for our own professional development and growth journey. Having a mentor gives you the head space to think about your role within your career journey / organisation and explore avenues you may not have considered or thought you could reach for. Mentoring also doesn't have to just be from someone in your sector or who has done the same job as you. A lot of the mentors I've had in my career are outside of the sector, but possess certain skills I feel would strengthen my role in marketing. From public speaking to entrepreneurs taking risks, having a mentor is flexible and highly rewarding.”

MENTOR: “There is nothing better than seeing other people achieve, it's highly rewarding both professionally and personally and to be part of their story of growth. Mentoring is a great way to give back to the marketing community and input into the upcoming talent in your sector or area.”

“Even as the mentor, there is still a lot to be learned. It's a great way to further develop your skills in listening, guiding, providing advice and more often than not you'll also learn somethings that stretch and grow you too.”

“You don't have to have years of experience, there is value in the quality of your experience and your career journey to date, that a lot of people can learn from. There's no set time frame to when you 'can' become a mentor.”

BOTH: “What you put in is what you get out and it is a commitment, but one that is worth the time and effort. Having a mentor or being a mentor is fluid and flexible though and not a call every day etc., it is about having someone to go to with challenges and discuss ideas with over a period of time, provide guidance and support.”

MENTOR: “Prepare for your first session with a series of questions, objective setting etc. Even though this process should be fluid, it is good to have a plan and to understand the mentees goals and ambitions and where the synergies lie from the outset.”

MENTOR: “Set the contact frequency and method from the outset, so you have a plan in place. This could be Zoom, F2F and once per month or bi-weekly. The frequency should provide enough time to work on and develop from the actions / suggestions put forward.”

“It's not just about you. Think about the connections in your wider network that could benefit your mentee, help widen their pool of knowledge, but also people to help them on your journey. It's ok not to have all the answers, but it's great if you know others who can provide specific support when needed.”

 

How mentoring can help you take the next step in your career

Nicola Irving, partnerships ambassador, CIM North East said:

“I sought a CIM mentor in 2018 at a time when I was struggling to really articulate the benefits of strategic marketing and what I felt I could deliver to the company. I had a fire inside me having completed a Level 7 Post Graduate Diploma with CIM and needed some help, and probably a bit of confidence to take the next step in my career. In the course of finding a mentor and having just made introductions, I was offered a role in another company which I felt would allow me to stretch my marketing muscles.

“I didn’t know it at the time, but my mentor made a huge difference to me both professionally and mentally. Having moved roles after 6 years, I was completely lost and entirely confused. My mentor helped me to ground myself in marketing principles and gently nudged me forward when I wobbled.

I’m now proud to be Head of Strategic Marketing and Communications in a role where I contribute fully to the whole marketing mix with my own team. Her influence was huge.” 

 

What can CIM offer you to help you take the first step?

If you are a senior marketer looking to develop talent within your ranks or a junior marketer simply looking to develop your marketing career or to seek some advice, CIM can help support you. There are free mentoring articles online and key information here. CIM offers members, a comprehensive mentoring scheme, which is accessible through MyCIM, matches aspiring marketing professionals to experienced mentors from a range of sectors.

 

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